Fstoppers Original: Peter Hurley exposes the perfect headshot

Fstoppers Original:  Peter Hurley exposes the perfect headshot

Update: Fstoppers has just completed the full 4 hour tutorial with Peter Hurley. Check it out here.

Peter Hurley is a true inspiration. Not only is he an amazing headshot photographer but he is also one of the most fun, energetic, and encouraging photographers I have ever met. Let me tell you why.

I was first introduced to Peter's work through Lee Morris a few years ago. As the story goes, Lee emailed a bunch of photographers while he was in college and one of the only ones to respond back was Peter Hurley. I'm sure Lee would have never thought five years later he would be shooting a behind the scenes video of Peter in his midtown studio in NYC.

If there is one thing that separates Peter Hurley's approach to photography it is that he clearly knows exactly what he is doing at all times. He is completely in control during his photoshoots with both his lighting and his interaction with his clients. If you have ever had to get a particular emotion out of your subject during a portrait session you know it can be a tough task. Peter's approach is to make his clients crack a smile by saying some of the most ridiculous comments I have ever heard during a photoshoot. Sometimes he will joke about taking yourself too seriously in front of the camera and other times he will poke fun at a funny mannerism you might accidentally express. Whatever it is he is saying, it is bound to get you smiling which he instantly captures in each frame. At first I thought a typical client might not open up so freely but after just 10 minutes of watching Peter shoot I realized he has mastered the art of making people feel comfortable in front of his camera.

Peter is also one of those guys who knows exactly what the final product is going to look like and how to achieve that perfect image. Many photographers approach their photoshoots with no real game plan, or they may treat it as an artistic experiment but hope in the back of their mind they can pull something off that looks great. Peter KNOWS that he is going to create something great. He told us so many stories about apprehensive clients or about actors he has worked with that lacked the confidence they needed to produce a solid headshot. In every case, Peter broke down the wall they initially had during the beginning of the photoshoot and they left with headshots they are still using today.

Some might say that his success can be attributed to his white backgrounds, or his soft lighting, or his talented clients but honestly it all boils down to his personality. Of course all of those other aspects help contribute to his style and images but it is truly his connection with his subjects that makes his images sing and allows him to feel 100% confident that by the end of his 2-3 hour session his clients will have a handful of headshots that will get them into the door of a casting agency.

We hope you guys enjoy this latest behind the scenes video and hope we can do Peter Hurley justice. I'm kind of kicking myself for not asking Peter to shoot a quick headshot of the fstoppers team; maybe next time. Check out more of his work at www.peterhurley.com and be careful of who you email, they may just email you back :)

Fstoppers Original: Peter Hurley shoots the perfect actor's headshot from FStoppers on Vimeo.

Written by Patrick Hall. Patrick Hall is the cofounder of Fstoppers.com and a wedding photographer in Charleston, South Carolina

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Previous comments

You're a natural Pete! Congrats. I'll be bringing a few more guys your way!

Cool vid. It's fun and pleasing to watch and is ACTUALLY inspiring.

This was a GREAT interview on a lot of levels and a strong calling card for Peter Hurley.

Hello FS

Amazing shots you got there Peter. I was just wondering. What kind of lighting do you use? I know you mention a bit in the interview but there is a lot more to it I think. Thanks for your reply :)

Kind Regards
Kenneth K Nielsen

David Strauss's picture

Awesome work, both the shooting the video and the head shots themselves. I think the thing that inspires me most is Peter's person-ability.

uhh not inspiring at all.

After watching this video yesterday (for the second time), I realized that there is so much more to headshots than I though. Peter Hurley is an inspiration and i learned a ton from this video. Thanks so much!

Awesome work by Peter Hurley. Thank you for sharing this interview.

Maximilian Rivera's picture

This was deff. inspiring I'm amazed how awesome model/photographers can do both and be amazing on both sides of the camera. Love your work!!

Kesara's picture

Inspiring and good work!

wow! great interview! you guys truly inspire me to start taking my photography to the next level! Thanks!

Amy Hoek Kubik's picture

I just ordered some diffusion cloth! Great inspiration to know that he started so simple...

Let's Go DSLR's picture

Coolest photographer in the world? I think so.

hey guys, do you know the name of the video's music track?

Alvinus Melius's picture

Great Stuff!

Wow! Thank you Fstoppers for featuring another great photographer that I want to learn from and hopefully work/assist with in the near future. 

Zach Holz's picture

how does he light his backgrounds?  

Patrick Hall's picture

he fires Alien Bees at them

Great stuff, love Peter Hurley and his work. I'd like to know if he has any tips for shooting basic employee headshots of rather reluctant subjects, who are just there because they have to, but they don't have much patience for taking direction and don't seem to care whether or not it looks good anyway as they get annoyed with even minor direction. Also, there is a line up of other employees waiting their turn and watching, so the subject is probably self conscious, and there is no time for chit-chat to warm them up.